HUNDREDS of patients in Scotland are being left with "worse outcomes and significant disability" because a procedure to remove blood clots is unavailable in Scotland, charities have warned.

Only 13 patients underwent the operation, known as a thrombectomy, in 2017 despite estimates that 600 people a year who suffer a severe ischaemic stroke could be eligible for the treatment.

The procedure physically removes the clot to open up the artery and increase blood flow.

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The figures emerged in the latest Scottish Stroke Care Audit.

It is estimated that routine access to thrombectomy in Scotland would result in around 300 patients having reduced disability and over 100 avoiding dependency on others, such as the need to live in a nursing home.

Thrombectomy is no longer offered at any hospital in Scotland, but is offered elsewhere in the UK.

The Scottish Government has established a national committee to plan the creation of a Scottish thrombectomy service, but campaigners said progress has been too slow.

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Andrea Cail, Director Scotland of the Stroke Association said: "In 2017, only 13 people received thrombectomy, and currently no centre in Scotland is providing it.

"The Audit identifies around 600 Scots per year as potentially benefitting from this life changing treatment.

"A national committee has been established to plan a Scottish thrombectomy service, but the process is slow and the consequence again is that many patients have been left with worse outcomes and significant disability.

"We are calling alongside Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland for the provision of thrombectomy in Scotland to be tackled as a priority by the Scottish Government, with national funding identified by the NHS.

"Those eligible stroke patients in Scotland deserve the same access to this life-changing treatment as in England.”

Paul Okroj, of charity Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, added: “If thrombectomy is not carried out, those having the most severe types of stroke are likely to be more disabled when they leave hospital and less able to care for themselves than people who have had a thrombectomy.

"This will increase the length of their recovery and ultimately increase demand on health and social care resources.”

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Overall, the Audit found that only one Scottish stroke care target had been achieved in 2017.

The target - for 80 per cent of patients to be seen at a specialist clinic within four days of referral - was exceeded at 82 per cent for the second year in a row.

A target to give thrombolysis - using drugs to break up clots - to 80 per cent of stroke patients within one hour of arrival was missed, averaging 59 per cent across Scotland.

However, two hospitals - Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride and Glasgow Royal Infirmary - became the first to achieve the thrombolysis target, and the total number of patients receiving thrombolysis was the highest since 2009.

Other targets - admission to a stroke unit within one day, a brain scan within 24 hours, a screening test in four hours and aspirin within a day - were missed.

Strokes are the third biggest killer in Scotland, but deaths have fallen.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "These figures show that our strategy for stroke is delivering real improvements, with deaths from stroke down 39.5 per cent between 2007 and 2016.

"We know people who have had a stroke need access to the best possible care as quickly as possible and we are focused on providing that in acute settings as well as helping people's longer-term recovery in their own communities."